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AN EXTREMELY RARE ROYAL NAVY NORDENFELT 1 INCH CALIBRE FOUR-BARRELLED ANTI-TORPEDO BOAT DECK-MOUNTED MACHINE GUN
All sold and unsold lots marked with a filled squa… Read more Sold on behalf of the Trustees of the Infantry & Small Arms School Corps Weapons Collection, Warminster
AN EXTREMELY RARE ROYAL NAVY NORDENFELT 1 INCH CALIBRE FOUR-BARRELLED ANTI-TORPEDO BOAT DECK-MOUNTED MACHINE GUN

BY THE NORDENFELT GUNS & AMMUNITION COMPANY, SERIAL NO. 2559, CIRCA 1880-5

Details
AN EXTREMELY RARE ROYAL NAVY NORDENFELT 1 INCH CALIBRE FOUR-BARRELLED ANTI-TORPEDO BOAT DECK-MOUNTED MACHINE GUN
BY THE NORDENFELT GUNS & AMMUNITION COMPANY, SERIAL NO. 2559, CIRCA 1880-5
With four side-by-side barrels fixed into an iron frame, the forward cross-piece of the frame with side-protrusions each bearing a blade fore-sight, the barrels each cut with eleven shallow grooves, the forged steel mechanism is contained within the rear of the frame, protected by iron covers, the hinged cast iron cartridge receiver is slotted with four apertures for the gravity-fed hopper which is locked into place between two rails, the base of the hopper with sliding plate, the breech-cover also incorporates the adjustable rear-sights, the back-plate bearing a brass plaque marked 'NORDENFELT No. 2559', the whole actuated by a lever which cycles, cocks and fires the mechanism through one complete movement, mounted on its original naval carriage with brass elevation and training handwheels, the base of the mount with lugs for fitment to a deck-mount, black and grey painted finish throughout (minor expert restoration and refurbishment to mechanism and frame)
35 1/4 in. (89.5cm.) barrels; 56 1/2 in. (143.5cm.) overall (mechanism closed); 20 in. (50.8cm.) across the frame; approx. 23 in. (58.5cm.) high inc. stand (not inc. hopper magazine)
The principle parts of the frame, mechanism and mount struck with matching serial numbers, WD and broad arrow War Department acceptance marks, and broad arrow over 'N' naval acceptance marks
Provenance
The Infantry & Small Arms School Corp Weapons Collection, Warminster, accession no. 261.
Special Notice

All sold and unsold lots marked with a filled square in the catalogue that are not cleared from Christie’s by 5:00 pm on the day of the sale, and all sold and unsold lots not cleared from Christie’s by 5:00 pm on the fifth Friday following the sale, will be removed to the warehouse of ‘Cadogan Tate’. Please note that there will be no charge to purchasers who collect their lots within two weeks of this sale.
Post Lot Text
Please note that this lot is purchased under Section 58 (2) of the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended), to be held as a curiosity or ornament.

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Lot Essay

Dating from the dawn of mechanical warfare, this triumph of Victorian engineering was designed by the Swedish inventor and industrialist Helge Palmcrantz although it was marketed under the Nordenfelt brand by his financial backer, Thorsten Nordenfelt. More accurately described as a volley gun rather than a true machine gun (which implies continuous fire), the Nordenfelt boasts a complexity of timing which is comparable to the mechanical cam operation and timing of a Babbage analytical engine.

Available in a range of calibres from .45 to 2.2 inch, the present example is a product of what was perceived at the time as a new threat from fast-moving motor torpedo boats. The Nordenfelt was amongst the earliest design of mechanical repeating gun and was rivalled to a greater or lesser degree by design such as the Montigny, Galing, Hotchkiss and Gardner. For the extensive naval trials concerning the anti torpedo boat gun, the main rival was Hotchkiss. The Nodernfelt consistently outclassed the Hotchkiss in terms of accuracy, reliability, rate of fire and ballistic capability against armour plate. The 1 inch bullet fired by this gun was of solid steel with a hardened tip and brass jacket to grip the shallow rifling.

The Royal Navy and other colonial navies purchased Nordenfelts but by the mid to late 1880s, they were being superceded by newer 'Quick Firing' guns. Despite being deployed in some numbers, very few survive today with only a handful of four-barrelled naval Nordenfelt guns known to survive in museum collections. Two examples are held by the Royal Armouries, Leeds, (one formerly in the Ministry of Defence Pattern Room Collection), Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower, Gosport, and one in the United States at the Untied States Army Ordnance Museum. It is conceivable that the present example is the only example of a four-barrelled naval Nordenfelt in public circulation.

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